Thursday, August 4, 2011

Diablo 3 RMT, again

I am running out of titles. The more I think about Blizzard's 'new' RMT solution, the more fascinated I am.

Just a few moments ago I found myself thinking:
"Imagine you find this Pet-Of-Überness while you play hardcore mode. Wouldn't it suck to not be able to sell it?"

Remember, I usually hate RMT in games. And still, the idea that you can actually make money by skillful and serious playing is fascinating me. Even though I hate myself for it.
We all consider ourselves skillful and serious players - otherwise we wouldn't read/write MMO blogs. Actually, most of us probably are skilled, because to become skilled in games you mostly need to be motivated and invest a lot of time. And that's what those who read/write gaming blogs do.

But my point is: if even I think along these lines, imagine the average guy ..

I have a feeling (fear) that Diablo 3 is going to be the next business-defining game made by Blizzard. Respect.

Forget the old microtransactions. The new system is light-years better for making money. In the past, many players had problems justifying the time they spent in games. Especially if they were married. But now, suddenly, they can make a bit of money while playing, while the single upper-middleclass guy can finally spend all that money that he can't get rid of during his 50-hours work-week.

Didn't it suck in the past that you earned so much money working your day job and couldn't benefit from it in your daily hobby? If Diablo 3 is a Blizzard quality game with this kind of RMT, it will hit like a bomb, I think.

The traditional microtransactions felt too much like an outside intrusion. The money-making scam that selling virtual items is, left too much of a bad taste in most peoples' mouth. Buying virtual items felt wasteful and was only going to make the company rich although creating the virtual item doesn't cost anything.
But the D3 RMT feels not so much like a scam. The $-AH just redistributes the items that have been found in the game. And that small fee Blizzard wants feels totally ok.

And items are never overpriced - by definition. You are just stupid if you let other players fool you. No way to blame Blizzard.

And it's more than just a game. If you never buy anything, you will be able to earn a bit of money. And rather consistently! That's more than just a game. It is some hobby that can make you money (even if you end up paying more than you earn - the feeling matters).

In the past we were addicted to advancing our characters - finding that one über-cool item. In the future we will be addicted to advancing our finances. This is the oldest business in the world. And it works so damn well that it is heavily regulated nowadays - even in unlikely places like the U.S. !

The possibility to earn money (even if it's just a theoretical possibility) is a game changer, literally!

Unfortunately, Blizzard shares are listed in dollars. What do I want with dollars ?


  1. This is more a question than a comment because I'm no expert but, if this idea really takes off, couldn't there be tax implications (for US citizens)?

    I know (ok, I've read) that Second Life and Eve Online have systems that do similar things -- but I've never played either. I only mention them because perhaps this sort of thing has already happened and/or been addressed and never been an issue.

    But my vague concern here is due to the idea that the IRS will want to (and may eventually be able to) tax you on your virtual worth in Diablo 3 even if you never convert that worth to real money.

    Tobald's recent post on Diablo 3 RMT made the excellent point that, with so many millions of people likely to be playing D3 and using the RMT feature, real market value of virtual items in that world will quickly become apparent.

    It seems to me, that once the real market value of "rare-goo" becomes established then I could be taxed on my earnings of rare-goo even if I never cash out. After all, if I receive pay for work in goods rather than cash, I still owe taxes on the fair market value of said goods.

    This seems especially likely if people start trying to make a living by playing Diablo 3 full time. If you play for a year and earn $10,000 from sales of rare-goo you'll be taxed on those earnings of course. But if I play for the same year and end up acquiring $10,000 worth of rare-goo but with no intention of ever cashing out, what's to stop the IRS from coming after me for taxes on my rare-goo earnings? From the IRS's point of view, its seems that there is no difference between the two situations -- both players have "worked" for a year and acquired $10,000 of net-worth from that work.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post -- I'm mostly just curious if my paranoia is as absurd as I hope it is.

  2. Taxwise I don't see it's all that different from something like EBay.

    In both USA and UK you can make a small amount of incidental income from a hobby as long as you are not pursuing the hobby for the intention of making money. For example selling your old D&D books is probably ok, buying 100 Dungeon Master's Guides to sell at a markup on EBay almost certainly isn't.

    If Tobold is right (and I'm sure he is) you would have to be a pretty major player to qualify. I suspect 99% of players won't pay back the price of the game. In USA you're allowed to offset your expenses against taxable profits so if you pay $60 for the game and sell $60 of items you don't owe them anything.

    (Disclaimer: I'm not a professional tax adviser and this should not be taken as professional advice. If in any doubt contact your tax office).

  3. Making a living playing Diablo 3 will be for the gold farmers, no doubt. And Blizzard will make a killing off of them.

    But here's the point that interests me the most:

    "(even if you end up paying more than you earn - the feeling matters)."

    In the end, it doesn't matter if people can/will make a living off of this. It's that it's an interesting, rewarding system in which players can put their money into the game. I'm inclined to agree: This could be the next big thing that people try to emulate.

  4. Oh good! Blizzard finally moved up from Drug Pedaling to the big leagues - Money Laundering. Seriously, the things they get away with!

    Of course my government won't mind 'cuz they get a cut of Blizzard's cut. ;)